You Are Where You Live

Would the shows “30 Rock” and “The O.C.” be as interesting and would the actors seem as cool if they were set in South Dakota?
It’s a shame, but it’s hard to avoid defining someone by where they come from. My friend Tom brought this point up a while back, and it got me thinking about the stereotypes I have of people from certain regions. When I think about the characters in “Roseanne,” for example, I get the same sense about them as I felt about people in Pittsburgh. Hard-working middle-class people who had respect for where they lived but deep down probably wanted to get out if they had the means. This probably isn’t really what it’s like, as I frequently return home and visit friends only to see that they have tattooed the Steelers football logo on their face, but that’s sure how it felt to me, and that’s why I wanted to leave.
My cousin Jordan goes to school in Kansas and seems to mock it self-consciously sometimes in her away messages. But I have another friend who used to live there, and she used to be so proud of Kansas, she would often befriend passersby on the street wearing Kansas paraphernalia. And they had the same pride as she did, high-fiving her back and exchanging e-mails. I was always impressed by this, since whenever I would hear the nasal all-too-familiar Pittsburgh accent on my college campus, I would try to go running in the opposite direction (in the direction of DON-TON).
The first few years in college, unless you attend a small school where everyone else is from the same place, you will be identified by where you’re from. Going to school in Nashville, I was the “Yankee” with my fast-walking, fast-talking, uptight ways. I didn’t mind it so much, and I guess there’s not much else to talk about when you’re shoved into a social setting with thousands of other people with not much else in common. But everyone seemed to take comfort in knowing where everyone else was from.
The problem Tom brought up is when people move to a new place and try to mooch off the coolness for themselves. Did you ever have a friend move to New York and suddenly become light-years cooler than you? They’ll sashay up to you and exclaim, “Each day, I spend my day with 8 million of the most interesting people in the world!” and you try with all your might not to punch them in the throat.
I’ve tried not to let this happen to me moving to LA. I love living here, and it feels right for right now. I’m just trying to blame that on a more positive life outlook, though, not because I happened to move to California.
Tom has lived many places. When he lived in Oregon, he mocked outsiders for pronouncing it “Or-e-gone” and lived the software developer geek-chic life. Now he has a city-crush on New Orleans (pronounced Naw-lins).
Justin has pointed out that many people seem to latch onto a country to help define their personality. Walk into any frat house in the country, and there’s a good chance you’ll find an Irish flag hanging in half the rooms. And I’ll bet my Blarney Stone that none of them are over 1/64 Irish.
But I can’t argue. I have a thing for Switzerland and Japan. Melissa has an unhealthy crush on Russia. My friend Kameron loves Cameroon. Okay, that last one’s not true. (Or is it?)
Traveling to Japan, I’ll have to prepare myself to be an ambassador for the United States as best I can. But I’m a member of a forum for the program, and since there are many British, Canadian, and Australian participants as well, there is always a lot of US bashing, which I find unfortunate. Even more unfortunate are the self-conscious Americans who respond with a knee-jerk, “Oh, don’t worry! I hate my country, too! BUSH LIES, PEOPLE DIE!”
When I lived in Switzerland for a month in 2003, I was minding my own business, reading a book in a cafe, when a group of teenage boys came up to me. They asked me, in German, what I was reading, and I must have misunderstood their dialect, because I asked them politely to repeat their question. They heard my American accent and suddenly flipped me off with both hands and shouted “FUCK AMERICANS!”
Everyone turned to look at me. It was terribly embarrassing, and I still don’t know what to make of it. Did his parents teach him to hate anyone from the United States, or did he watch on the news that it was the cool thing to do?
In conclusion…I have nothing to conclude. These thoughts have been rattling around in my head, and I’ve tried to tie them together conclusively. I guess what I’m trying to say is…be proud of where you’re from, and if you don’t like it, go somewhere else? Sure, why not?

Bizzy Bee

Been writing a lot. Parents in town. Going to Disneyland today! Pictures to follow. Also full sentences.

So…Japan

I’ve been keeping a secret from you. Back in October, I decided to take a slightly large plunge and apply to a …